Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tuning In
On a 2-lane highway somewhere in the deep hinterland of the American West, I heard about the meaning of April 19th.  The details spewed out the car radio in my Toyota wagon as I made my way from my friend’s house in Montana to my sister’s house in Colorado, a pit stop in what was one long road trip in the early 90's as I vagabonded my way through America. I was cruising the waves, seeking something different than the cassette tapes that had become so predictable that they played over and over again in my mind long after I left the car.  Listening was an easy connection to the local community in those hours of solo, road-trip travel through small towns.

Along those lonely roads, the talk radio host went onto explain the significance of a citizen rebellion of government on that day, the anniversary of the 1775 Battle of Lexington and Concord. The man went on to talk about Waco, a 51 day month siege that ended on April 19th and the Oklahoma bombing that purposely occurred on the same day.  It is still unclear if America’s first mass school shooting in Columbine Colorado was orchestrated for that day or Hitler’s birthday on the 16th. When I tuned in, I learned these things.

An AM-band radio station kept me awake and focused during the early morning hours, after an epic two-day hike in the pouring rain with 10 elementary school children, a flooded stream and a burly co-guide who rigged a line across the torrent and carried each kid across, as they clung to his back. After more hours of hiking, the group slowing down into darkness, we loaded up, stopped for pizza and headed back to camp. The van was quiet with deep, exhausted breathing, the only sound was music and commentary from a station in New York City, miles away, but reaching me as I focused on the empty highway to home.

On another road trip to a job at a ski resort in Colorado, I hit a patch of black ice and felt helpless as the car tumbled over into a ravine. In that second, I gave up to the forces around me.  There was no control.  There was no ability to change the trajectory.  I was on a path and there was no turning back. The small rocks on the dashboard, the go-to items in the passenger seat and cargo in the back were scattered throughout the car; the seatbelt held me safe. I landed on all four wheels and with the engine still running, got hauled out of the ditch to review my options. In the end and after my sister , the car was safe enough to drive. In the late morning the next day, I began the journey back to Boulder.   The car was clean and empty, rising up the highway over Steamboat Pass.  the radio played the song, “And when I die… there will be another child born to carry on”   I cried to the music in the car.  

The car radio punctuated a passionate moment when I was in High School as I kissed a boy in the front seat. The night was cool, it was steamy and passionate, the brush of whiskers and explorations of lips and skin, hands and hair. My knee hit the knob and the radio station blared, "Jesus died for your sins." We paused, giggled, and tried to carry on. The moment was changed then. He was Catholic. He dropped me at home shortly after.

In all the commentary of the campaign and the results of the election, I feel similarly to that moment in 1979 when the abrupt message came in over the radio waves. I am alternating among a desire to leave the country (one acquaintance has already),retreat into meditation and dedicate time to finding righteous employment, or find the right activism. In the meantime, I try to muster kindness for all. What other control do we have? The questions linger. How to do we have a constructive and meaningful dialog with those who hold different views? What is the way forward in achieving unity and agreement to advance our collective commitment to liberty and justice for all? How will this incredibly turbulent time change us, as people and as a nation? I am not sure the radio will have the answers, but it worth trying to tune in to learn more.